unMetered Bonus 3 - "1948: A Year Not to Waste"

unMetered Bonus 3 - "1948: A Year Not to Waste"

This week's bonus material comes in the form of an energy efficiency tip about HVAC systems and a historically based flash story about an electrical device used today. Can you guess what the device is before the story ends? Only one way to find out

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Thanks for listening to another episode of unMetered, brought to you by Middle Tennessee Electric. As a member-owned not-for-profit electric cooperative, Middle Tennessee Electric wants to remind members to be aware of their energy consumption during the cold weather months. Outside temperatures below 60 degrees can drive your HVAC unit to consume more energy while running longer and harder to keep the inside temperature at your preferred comfort level. Lower the thermostat and wear extra clothing to reduce your monthly energy consumption and lower the risk of a high bill.

If you have additional questions regarding your monthly bill or energy consumption habits, give Middle Tennessee Electric a call at 877-777-9020 or download our member app, myMTEMC, through iTunes or GooglePlay. You can also access all this information, by going to www.MTEMC.com/myMTEMC.

For this week’s bonus feature, we’ve got a story for you today.

The year was 1948. A year stuffed with curious activities. A year in which the first tape recorder was sold, Harry Truman was re-elected as president, and the 84-year-old baseball legend Connie Mack challenged 76-year-old fellow legend Clark Griffith to a race… and surprisingly ended in a tie. Quite an interesting year to coincide with the creation of something almost all of us enjoy because one man didn’t want to be wasteful.

While the world turned and events happened, a man by the name of Robert C. Webber was working on a freezer in his cellar under his home. Home refrigeration was nothing new and had in fact been around for years. You see, Robert C. Webber was looking to improve his electric deep freezer…  the kind of freezer so cold you can store meat for years without spoiling.

On that day in 1948 though, Robert burned his hand on his freezer. An intriguing incident since the freezer should be displacing cold water, not hot. By hot I’m not talking about warm to the touch, or lukewarm. Nor am I describing the kind of hot you experience when curled up next to a fireplace on a cold winter morning reading your favorite book, newspaper... or even Facebook post. I’m talking about the kind of hot that boils water and makes you scream out loud when you touch it. The kind of hot where running cold water over it makes it worse and sends you scrambling for Aloe Vera. Robert discovered that the deep freezer was producing scalding hot water.

Not wanting to be wasteful, Robert thought about how to use this heat from his freezer. Many ideas came to mind, and when all seemed to fail, he decided to send the hot water to his boiler.  As many of you have experienced with your water heater, his boiler could not keep enough hot water flowing into his home for showers and washing hands. Not having enough hot water is an issue all families have encountered, and nothing is more surprising than singing in the shower to your favorite song when the hot water runs out. And you know it ran out because all of a sudden you hear that note higher than you think is possible... coming from your mouth. So Robert fixed his boiler problem by sending the heated water from his deep freeze, in the cellar, into his boiler. And just like that, there were no more cold showers for his family.

But now Robert encountered the issue of having too much hot water. Of course, not wanting to be wasteful, he needed to send the leftover heated, scalding hot water from the boiler somewhere else. As an inventor, his mind worked in ways different than the average American. So he thought and grumbled, drew sketches and mumbled. Finally, he had an idea for the leftover wasted hot water.

He ran that leftover boiling water into a coiled copper tube with a small electric fan. The hot water heated the coil and the fan blew and blew. In fact, that fan blew so well, it heated his entire home. In 1948, Robert C. Webber created the first electric heat pump by reusing the wasted boiling hot water from a deep, cold freezer.

The following year, Robert replaced his coal furnace in his home, and decades later, heat pumps are found in most HVAC units in Tennessee. The water has now been replaced by freon and the systems have grown smaller and more efficient. Robert C. Webber inspired a new generation of electrical technology centered around the idea of air conditioning.

I told you at the beginning of the story that 1948 was a year filled with curious activities. So as you sit in your homes, offices, or anywhere indoors with your HVAC system running, you can thank Robert C. Webber for his burned hands and not wanting to be wasteful.

And that is the unMetered Story about how the first electric heat pump was developed.

Thanks for listening and don’t forget to check your thermostat and turn down your heat. Your heat pump and wallet will thank you for it. If you have any questions about your monthly bill or energy consumption habits this winter, feel free to contact us at 877-777-9020 or at www.mtemc.com. We’ll see you next time.

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